(NaturalNews) Arthritis pain can tempt you to veg out on the couch or even make it difficult to get out of bed in the morning. In fact, the last thing you might think would make you feel better is to get up and exercise. But a new study published in the Arthritis Care and Research journal concludes regular exercise is an effective way to significantly improve and manage arthritis pain.
The researchers said the idea that exercise exacerbates arthritis pain is a myth –- instead, exercise eases pain.
According to Patience White, M.D., chief public health officer of the Arthritis Foundation, relatively minor lifestyle changes like taking a 10-minute walk several times a day can improve quality of life as well as help with the management painful arthritis. "Physical activity can actually reduce pain naturally and decrease dependence on pain medications," said Dr. White.
The study measured the effectiveness of the Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program, developed in 1987, to reduce pain and stiffness and to keep muscles strong and joints flexible. Instead of a highly vigorous work-out, the basic eight-week Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program focuses on low-impact routines with gentle range-of-motion movements that can be performed while sitting or standing.
Study participants reported a decrease in both pain and fatigue, an increase in upper and lower extremity function, and an increase in strength after participating in the basic exercise program. Those who continued to work out independently after the initial supervised eight week program ended showed additional improvement in reduced stiffness.
This is good news for the aging population of U.S. baby boomers looking for a natural drug-free way to help reduce the pain of arthritis. The disorder is expected to increase by 40 percent over the next twenty years, affecting 67 million Americans.
More from arthritis researchers: a study by Oregon State University scientists published in the March edition of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association links rheumatoid arthritis, which is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, to a lower-than-average level of vitamin B-6.
The scientists studied a group of women 55 and older -- 18 had rheumatoid arthritis and 33 were healthy controls. High plasma levels of homocysteine, an amino acid linked to an elevated risk of heart disease, and lower-than-normal B vitamin status were documented in the women with rheumatoid arthritis. The results showed that as vitamin B6 levels in particular plummet and homocysteine levels rise, disability status worsens.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, low dietary intake of vitamin B6 is associated with higher risk of having heart disease –- most likely because vitamin B6, together with vitamin B9 (folic acid) and vitamin B12, help to keep homocysteine levels under control.
Good dietary sources of vitamin B6 include chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon, shrimp, lentils, soybeans, nuts, avocados, bananas, carrots, brown rice, bran, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, and whole-grain flour.
About the author
Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA’s "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic’s "Men’s Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.